Oman will join its GCC peers on 15 June in levying excise taxes on a number of selected goods deemed to be ‘harmful’ to health and the environment. Tobacco, energy drinks, alcohol and pork products will all be taxed at 100%, with a 50% levy on carbonated soft drinks. The government reckons the ‘sin tax’ will raise OR100mn ($260mn), a small but badly-needed move towards diversifying revenues away from oil and gas. In reality (as is often the case with such taxes) it is unclear whether the law’s main aim is to boost revenues or curb consumption. Either way, the tax is unlikely to put a dent in the Sultanate’s perennial deficits (MEES, 4 January).

The decision to levy excise taxes on selected goods and to introduce value added tax (VAT) was adopted by the GCC Secretariat in June 2016, but member states since then have failed to agree on a uniform implementation schedule. Saudi Arabia was the first to impose excise taxes in June 2017 (MEES, 2 June 2017), followed by the UAE in October 2017 (MEES, 6 October 2017) and Bahrain at the end of 2017. Qatar followed suit in January 2019, but Kuwait has yet to announce a date to impose excise taxes. (CONTINUED - 227 WORDS)